Guilford County Schools bus drivers racing to find jobs with the district

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GUILFORD COUNTY, N.C. — Guilford County bus drivers tell FOX8 they’re scrambling to find jobs.

With kids staying home for nine weeks, they are not needed behind the wheel but these drivers do need money.

Cleaning classrooms, delivering meals and operating a Wi-Fi hotspot are all options for Guilford County bus drivers.

“The school system is going to try to keep bus drivers employed in any way they can,” bus driver Sonny Gill said.

Gill has spent more than a decade driving buses for GCS. Like other longtime district drivers, Gill loves his job and the kids on his route but at 68 years old, he’s not sure if he wants to do maintenance work on school buses and buildings just to stay on the payroll.

“Cleaning windows, moving furniture, other cleaning just to keep the drivers employed until we can go back to normal,” Gill said.

Other options are slim, many are first come, first serve with a preference to seniority as positions quickly fill up online with drivers racing to apply near their region.

One driver who wished to remain anonymous told FOX8 the district should have prepared them sooner.

“It’s just so confusing and frustrating. It’s scary at the same time because I don’t know if I’m going to be scrubbing toilets, if I’m going to be painting walls. Am I going to be taking seat covers off of a bus? Am I going to be replacing parts on a bus?” asked the female driver.

The online job portal opened Friday at noon and as spots fill up, others left open have vague descriptions like “general upkeep” which could mean anything and is worrying some drivers who have had little to no instruction on how to do their new job.

“I have no clue how to change a seat cover. I’ve never had training on how to take a seat cover off and replace it,” the female driver said.

“It would have been nicer if we had a little more notice, a little more time,” Gill said.

With limited options and little time to choose, Gill has considered retiring early.

“If it comes to that then that’s what I’ll do and I’ll wait six months and come back as a sub driver,” Gill said.

Alamance-Burlington School System and Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are also offering similar options for bus drivers during remote learning. Most Randolph County school bus drivers will have Wednesdays off because they’ll be working longer shifts the rest of the week.

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